Ecuador’s attempt to extort Chevron begins to wind down (Opinion)

Posted on October 26, 2017 • Filed under: Conflicts, Ecuador, Oil

Michael I. Krauss , Contributor
Law Prof.
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

I have described in detail, in numerous previous columns over several years, Ecuador’s corrupt efforts to almost $10 billion from Chevron Corp. for pollution damages allegedly caused by Texaco (whose interests were purchased by Chevron). Interested readers should consult these earlier columns by clicking on my name and reading the appropriate entries).

As readers of this column know, the pollution in question was quite likely caused by Ecuador’s own state petroleum company, years after Texaco cleaned up the site and obtained a legal release from the Ecuadorean government. In October, finally, years and millions in legal fees later, justice is slowly but surely being meted out to those who spearheaded the failed attempt to extort Chevron.

The plaintiffs’ (and their American attorney Steve Donziger’s) efforts to enforce their corruptly obtained Ecuadorean judgment against the assets of Chevron Canada Limited, a company distinct from Chevron Corp. is drawing to a close. The Court of Appeal for the province of Ontario (which, like most jurisdictions outside the US, has a “loser-pays” rule requiring unsuccessful litigants to pay reasonable lawyers’ fees of their victorious opponents) has ordered the Ecuadorian plaintiffs to deposit nearly C$1 million as security for costs of their appeal of adverse decisions against it, which appeals the provincial high court predicted are unlikely to succeed. “In my view, the Ecuadorian plaintiffs have not demonstrated that their appeal has a good chance of success,” Justice Gloria J. Epstein wrote in her 31-page decision. The court had discretion to waive the bond requirement for impecunious litigants, but Justice Epstein noted that the plaintiffs have “received a significant amount of funding for this litigation in the past” and that they refuse to provide information about their current sources of financing.


The plaintiffs in Canada are evidently copying from their US playbook, enlisting entertainment stars in support of their cause. In Ontario, though, seem to be scraping the bottom of the ethical barrel, as they have enlisted Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters (he who has compared Israel to Nazi Germany and whose longstanding anti-Semitism has been revealed in a recent film by Canadian Ian Halperin) as PR support in Canada. With apologies to Seneca (or perhaps Ben Franklin): qui cum canibus concumbunt cum pulicibus surgent

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